What We Say 2006 Family Estate Vineyard Pinot Noir
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Mission Codename: We’re not in Burgundy?
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Infiltrate Crinella Vineyards, a Russian River gem whose reportedly perfect Pinot Noir is crafted from Estate fruit, by esteemed winemaker, Rod Berglund. If the wine is as impressive as its reputation indicates, secure an ample allotment for our Operatives.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Crinella Vineyards
Wine Subject: 2006 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
Winemaker: Rod Berglund
Backgrounder: Today’s wine is made by the prolific prince of Pinot Noir, Rod Berglund (of Joseph Swan Vineyards), from Crinella’s Estate vineyards, in the Green Valley Appellation of the Russian River Valley.
The Russian River Valley, in Sonoma County, produces Pinot Noir of remarkable distinction. The cooler maritime conditions of the region make the RRV ideal for growing Pinot Noir. The Russian River Valley in Sonoma is particularly well suited to producing exceptional Pinot Noir. This AVA was officially designated in 1983, but many of the wines in the region used the designation as early as the 1970s (early in California’s wine history) with the many of the vines having been first planted in the early 1900s. Read Agent Red’s tasting notes, and winemaker interview, below for the full intel on this exciting wine.h3. Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Perfect clarity through hues of deep garnet. At the core of the wine, a slightly darker garnet is seen. When spun in the glass, the thin edges of the wine take on a gently brickish hue. When the wine settles, skinny, wine-stained tears take a long time to appear, before crawling very slowly down the wall of the glass.
Smell – Earthen and plush, with soft cherry leading the way. Just below, more Burgundian aromatics of orchard fruit, subtle brown spice, subtle crushed dried flower petals and hints of toasty oak and flinty minerals.
Feel – Smooth and dry on the attack, with a solid weight and a big mid-palate plushness. A lively acidity and flinty minerality are balanced against a nice spice that accumulates at the tip of the tongue as flavors fade.
Taste – Like a French Burgundy, this wine holds its fruit in quiet restraint, while more earthen flavors sing out. Dried dark stonefruit mingles with a soft nuttiness, spice and a distinct flint. Under these, touches of forest floor, salty licorice and soft oak make a subtle appearance. Note: We revisited the wine after decanting for several hours – and found far more fruit and flavor in the wine.
Finish – Clean and crisp, with lingering flavors that are supported by bright acidity and dried stonefruits, that yield to earthy flavors, minerals and tongue-tip spice.
Conclusion – This is a wine that defied my expectations. And in a good way! My palate is trained to expect a Russian River Valley Pinot Noir to taste, smell and even behave a certain way; Great examples of RRV Pinot just have that certain RRV-ness to them. And so it is that I opened this wine, expecting one thing – but then getting something completely different. If I blind tasted this complex and wonderful wine, I would have guessed that it was a French Burgundy! Complex, weighty and beguiling, this wine had us sipping and swirling and sniffing for longer than usual, taking in every nuance present in its myriad layers. Expect something different when you order this intriguing wine! Decant for best results.
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Ramona Crinella
WINE EDUCATION: I drank my first great wine when i was four years old and continued my wine education where ever I could, on the beaches of the Russian River, in my father’s wine cellar, at Fiori’s Pub, at the Oak Room of the Plaza and the great restaurants of Paris and Cannes. I attempted to finish my education by drinking a glass of wine at every bar on Bourbon Street, a project, alas, I had to leave unfinished. I learned from my education that the better the wine I drank, the better I felt the next day.
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: I accidentally planted our Sauvignon Blanc Vineyard in 1999 and then got the bright idea to make wine and got my brother, Frank Crinella, to go along with it. People said I was doing something really stupid. Our first release, Crinella 2004 Sauvignon Blanc, won a silver medal at the Sonoma County Harvests Fair. People then said maybe it was not quite so stupid.
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: It is pretty simple. Grow the best grapes possible in our vineyards and then make the best wine possible from our grapes.
WINEMAKER QUOTE: _” There is no occasion that is not improved by a glass of nice wine.”
FIRST COMMERCIAL WINE RELEASE: September 2004, Crinella Sauvignon Blanc.
AGENT RED: Greetings, Ramona. We are thrilled to be showing your 2006 Estate Pinot Noir today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
RAMONA CRINELLA: Thank you. I am very glad to be here today.
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
RAMONA: My father appreciated good wine and we learned about it from him. We often visited the Crinella family in Saint Helena and played in the vineyards of Charles Krug which was owned by our friends, the Mondavi family.
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
RAMONA: Our style was influenced by many of the great wines we were allowed to taste as children.
RED: Who do you make wine for?
RAMONA: We make our wines for ourselves. We hope people will like them but whenever my brother and I taste one of our wines we look at each other and say, " If nobody likes this wine, we don’t care, we will drink it all ourselves."
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.
RAMONA: This 2006 Pinot Noir was grown in Crinella Estate Vineyard in Forestville which we planted in 2002. We analyzed every area of the land and planted seven different Pinot Noir clones, each one selected for that particular microclimate. We had guys looking at the soil horizon twenty feet down, we looked at the heat generated in different spots, and the amount of moisture available and then planted. This wine was made in the Burgundian style by Rod Berglund who owns Joseph Swan Winery.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
RAMONA: With this wine, I like pasta, cheese, lamb, duck, geese, beef and chocolate.
RED: In your opinion, what makes the Green Valley AVA so special?
RAMONA: The Russian River Valley and Green Valley where Crinella Estate Vineyard is planted has superb soil and climate for growing Pinot grapes, hot sunny days followed by cool foggy nights. It does not get better than that area.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
RAMONA: We are opening a tasting room in downtown Forestville. It will offer our customers a unique wine experience.
RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?
RAMONA: Our wines are basically food wines, we like people to enjoy food with them and the whole social experience. I am never happier than when I am looking down a table with food, wine, friends and family.
RED: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
RAMONA: We invite everyone to stop by and visit us. We love to give people a pair of pruning shears and teach them how to take care of the vines. Then, we sit under one of the old oak trees and have a glass of wine.
RED: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The approximate location of the WINERY can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
Crinella Winery & Vineyards
Awards & Accolades:
West Coast Wine Competition placed Crinella Pinot Noir as one of the top eight Pinot Noir Wines in the 2008 event which is organized by Vineyard and Winery Magazine.
“All the characteristics of the wine are superb and will continue to get even more so with more aging.” – Dan Berger
“This light-bodied, bone dry Pinot has good varietal definition in its violet-black cherry core, and it has fine minerality and light tannin, A fair value” – Scott Clemens, Epicurean Traveler
“Wow, terrific fruit from a producer that supplies both Twomey and Merry Edwards. This is really good stuff, with a nose & palate of rich red fruit and a round mouthfeel, just enough acidity to keep it complex, and a long satisfying finish making one run for the cellar for another bottle. Superb effort. 92 points.” Snoman at cellartracker.com
About This Wine:
The grapes for this extraordinary Pinot Noir are grown on our family estate, in Russian River Valley. Our vineyards are tended with special care at the direction of our Vineyard Manager, Jim Pratt. The diversity of growing conditions on the estate produces grapes with a range of aromas, flavors and characteristics. Each block (and often sub-blocks) are harvested and fermented separately. The wine is hand crafted in the traditional Burgundian style to achieve a true reflection of the grape and the terroir. Rod blends our seven Pinot clones into a lovely mosaic which exemplifies our unique vineyard character.
Food Pairing: This is an excellent wine with Caponatina a la Siciliana and fresh sourdough bread. You will also find it a perfect wine and food pairing when you serve this with Grilled Lamb Chops and Sautéed Potatoes & Onions. Follow the meal with the delightful dessert, Peaches Noir. The wine will carry beautifully through the entire meal.
About The Winery:
The Italy of our grandparents at the end of the nineteenth century is remote from the sophisticated California in which we live today and where our family vineyards are located. Yet, in many ways we farm much the same way as the old country, tending the vineyards by hand and we have, perhaps, now come full circle.
We grew up in Sonoma County, in an Italian-American culture that sprung from late 19th century immigrants, primarily Genovese, Toscani, Lombardi, Piemontese, Marchegiani, and Italian Swiss. As children we played in many of the great vineyards of Napa, Mendocino and Sonoma Counties. Considerable thought and time was given to the preparation of food and the wines that were served.
Our exposure to wine has been lifelong. If you look over our cookbook, you cannot help but notice that wines are used in many of our recipes. One rule of thumb we always employed was that if the wine was not good enough for drinking, it was not good enough for cooking. As far as table wine, we were never very fussy, as long as the wine was dry, very good, and from Sonoma, Napa or Mendocino Counties. Pop generally liked Martini and Prati for his ordinary wine. He used their Sauternes for white (of course, in California in those days they spelled it Sauterne) and their Zinfandel for red. He also had cases of fine wines in our cellar from his friends the Mondavis at Charles Krug Winery but it was used only for Sunday dinners and special occasions during which as children we were always allowed to have a glass of “wine” consisting of a tumbler of water in which a teaspoon or two of wine was mixed.
The, Sonoma County we grew up in was a rural farming area. The wineries had none of the extraordinary varietal wines we make here today. In 1947, a $1,000. a plate dinner was held at the Topaz Room in Santa Rosa to benefit the proposed Memorial Hospital. It was the most elegant and expensive charitable event ever held in Sonoma County to date. The wines simply were listed as chablis and vintage carignane.
Now there are any number of wonderful wineries located in Sonoma County, and you will rarely get a bad wine if it is a Sonoma County varietal. When we were growing up we often visited the local wineries and have watched the emergence of the Sonoma County wine industry with real pride. We’re thrilled to now have our own vineyards in the Russian River appellation, on lands which we inherited from our parents.
The tales of the Crinella and Zurlo families are probably not much different than those of most other immigrant families in America—Italians and others—but these stories are special to us. Perhaps readers other than those in our family will find both the recipes and our family history in America of interest.
Our grandmothers, Anna Crinella (of Marches Italy) and Theresa Zurlo (of Liguria, Italy) were fastidious and uncompromising about food. There were no shortcuts. While pasta was freshly made, usually once a week, they eschewed the use of the pasta machine. A heavy wooden pasta board graced the kitchen table, complemented by a 40-inch rolling pin. This was arguably the focal point of the home, for there was always time to have long conversations during the ritual of pasta making, which, however time consuming, was pretty automatic. We were always allowed to help. Wrapped in aprons and standing on chairs we viewed the interesting transformation of flour and eggs into pasta with great attention. So, it was not distracting for our grandmothers to tell us stories and teach us about cooking as the work progressed. We welcome you to our family and offer our recipes as a means of sharing our history, along with our wines, with you.